Offers of Judgment are often used by Defendants to pass the cost of a lawsuit off on the Plaintiff when the Defendant believes the Plaintiff is asking for an unreasonable amount of money. While offering $100,000 to settle a case may seem like a simple matter, those offers are rife with pitfalls for attorneys that do not understand Rule 68 of the federal rules of civil procedure.

Today the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrated one of those snags in Rhonda Thompson v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 07-1969 by holding that while defendant’s offer of judgment was unambiguous, the district court erred in determining it was legally valid and should be enforced. According to the court, even though the Defendant attempted to eliminate paying costs in its offer, an offer of judgment under Rule 68 may not exclude costs and the offer, which excluded all costs, was void.

Jeanelle R. Lust